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Andrea H., Pituitary Transsphenoidal Surgery

Before Cushing's

Before Cushing’s

I’ve always been a little chubby my entire life. When I gained a significant amount of weight my senior year of high school, I never thought twice about it. Soon after I graduated in 2009 and started working, I had my first panic-anxiety attack. This was one of the scariest moments of my life. I even went to the emergency room because I thought I was having a heart attack. My dad has had panic-anxiety disorder since he was young so we just assumed it was hereditary. After getting my anxiety under control, I slowly stopped taking the anti-depressant I was on and was feeling great.

About a year later, it all began. I was laying on the couch waiting to go to class, and I got this horrific pain in my left lower back. I continued to lay there thinking, oh it will go away. After an hour or so of lying there in pain, I got a friend to drive me to the hospital. I had a CT scan and passed two kidney stones while I was there. That was not the last of these kidney stones. In three months I passed eight stones! I was seeing the urologist and that’s when I found out I had high blood pressure. This was a shock to me because my blood pressure had always been perfect! I was a smoker and decided to stop after finding out I had high blood pressure at such a young age. Soon after I saw my primary care doctor and she started me on blood pressure medicine. Around this time my face started breaking out extremely bad! Not to brag, but my skin was always flawless. I tried everything from over the counter acne treatments to medicine and creams prescribed by my dermatologist. Nothing was working and I was getting very irritated. I eventually gave up and just thought maybe it’s a phase my body is going through and it will eventually go away.

During all this time I was working out at the gym every day. I went to zumba classes and turbo kick every other morning. I had been doing this for over six months and I completely changed my eating habits and had only lost about 20 pounds. I started feeling really fatigued all the time and didn’t have ‘the want’ to work out anymore, especially in the mornings. My sleep schedule was completely thrown off. I was going to bed early because I was so tired, but I would wake up many times during the night feeling restless. I became depressed for absolutely no reason. I remember one time just lying in my room crying until my eyes were swollen. The smallest things would make me mad or make me cry. This was completely unreal, because I’ve always been a happy person. I had no clue why I was so emotional. Also, every time I looked in the mirror I noticed my face was red and puffy, like it was swollen. I just knew something was wrong with me! I just didn’t feel myself. My muscles were always aching, and there were mornings I literally couldn’t get out of the bed. My hair was falling out more than ever.

With Cushing's

With Cushing’s

I went for a check-up with my primary care doctor to make sure my blood pressure medicine was working, and that’s when I was asked if my cortisol levels had ever been checked. I wasn’t sure, because I’ve been tested for so many things this year I wouldn’t have doubted it. They got a blood and urine sample anyways. She had mentioned Cushing’s disease and said that I “looked” as if I might have it. I went home and searched the internet only to find I had every symptom of this disease and in fact I did “look” like I had it. Two days later, after a day of shopping I was not feeling well, I could tell something wasn’t right. I was extremely light headed and nauseas. My mom bought me a blood pressure machine so I could check it anytime. I checked it when I got home from shopping and it was 190/127. I was scared because that is stroke level and I already had a headache. My mom took me to the emergency room, where they gave an IV with medicine to make your blood pressure come down. After waiting for many hours I was seen by the doctor. I explained to him everything I was experiencing over the past few months. He admitted me for testing for Cushing’s disease. I was in the hospital for a week; it was a very miserable seven days. They drew blood every day for many tests leaving huge bruises on my arms. After a 24 hour urine test, a CT scan, a MRI and many blood tests I was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease caused by a tumor on my pituitary gland. I was so relieved, but terrified at the same time! I finally had the answers to all of my problems, and I wasn’t crazy. Soon after, I met with an endocrinologist and a neurologist. We decided that trans-sphenoidal surgery would be the best option for me. It was very scary thinking I had to have brain surgery! My family and friends have been so supportive and carried me throughout these months of terror. I do have to thank one person though, and that’s my mother. She has gone above and beyond, to make sure I am comfortable and happy. I couldn’t ask for a better support group!

I had my surgery in Sept 2012, two months after being diagnosed. Today, I am three weeks post-surgery and hopefully it was a success. My doctors were pretty confident, which gives me hope. I will know for sure if my surgery was a success in a short two weeks! I haven’t been back to work, due to not being released from my doctors. I think I’m on the long road to recovery!

November, 2012 2 months post-op

November, 2012
2 months post-op

Update- It is now the middle of November and so much has changed. I started my cycle after not having one for nine months. I’ve gone from taking 35mg of replacement hormones to only 10mg. Hopefully I will be off of them before I know it! I will not be seeing my doctor again until February because I’ve made such wonderful progress! I’ve also been taken off of all my blood pressure medicine. I went from taking ten pills a day to three! I would say that’s pretty good! I went back to work the beginning of this month but still taking it easy! I’m so excited to see what my future holds. Maybe I can focus on what I want to do for the rest of my life! I’m so blessed in so many ways and thank you, God, for placing your healing hand upon my soul. My advice to everyone suffering with this horrible disease is to stay positive! After a hurricane, comes a rainbow.

If anyone has any questions, or if I can be any help, don’t hesitate to call, text, or email me.

Member: 122011
Newsletter: Winter, 2012
State: Tennessee

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